Pre-orders in eCommerce: The ultimate hype strategy
Pre-orders are best when demand exceeds supply.
Pre-ordering is a new way to market your products, gauge excitement and make decisions about restocking products or manufacturing them. Pre-ordering should be done with care. You don’t want to scare customers by having too many out-of-stock products on your website.
There are many things to consider before you decide to implement this strategy. Continue reading to learn how to offer pre-orders for your business and how you can make this strategy work.
What is an eCommerce Pre-Order?
An eCommerce pre-order means that an online store places an item on sale even if it isn’t in stock. Pre-ordered items can be ordered and paid in advance. They usually have an availability date. Customers may also be charged when the item ships.
Why would you allow pre-ordering?
Pre-ordering might be a good option for many reasons.
- It is used to build excitement about a product before its release. Many publishers of video games and books run pre-sale campaigns in order to generate buzz about new titles. This creates a sense of urgency in buyers who want to be first to receive new products. Pre-order campaigns can be synchronized with events or dates (e.g. pre-order in spring) and can become the focus of marketing campaigns.
- To keep customers. Pre-orders are a great way to keep customers happy if you have a popular product that sells quickly. Pre-orders can even offer special pricing to customers who order them. Pre-orders also reduce the wait time for high-demand items. This ensures that your customer receives an item as soon it becomes available. They don’t need to go back to your website to place an order.
- To finance products in development. Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter connect creators and individuals who are willing money to support their ideas. The product will be delivered to backers as soon as it is developed. If you want to validate your product idea, or test new product variants (e.g. colors, sizes and scents), you might consider a pre-order strategy.
- To increase cash flow. Manufacturing typically takes between 30 and 60 days. You will likely be communicating with many suppliers, receiving samples (in case of a new product) and preparing orders for shipping. Pre-orders may be accepted to keep money coming in while you are spending time and cash.
- To sample demand. Store owners who need to plan ahead for each season’s purchases will enjoy two main benefits from pre-orders. They help you to understand the demand for a product. Is bento lunch boxes the hot item this school year or is eco-friendly bamboo lunch bag a better option? Pre-orders are a reliable source for sales revenue. These two benefits combine to make it easier for online store owners to plan and finance their purchases simultaneously.
What is the best time to take pre-orders
Pre-orders can be offered at any stage in your business’s development. Pre-orders are a great way to keep your sales flowing, from the moment you start selling your first products to when you open new channels or countries.
These are just a few examples of situations where you might choose to activate a pre-ordering option.
- You can offer a new product to your website by pre-ordering. This will help you gauge interest and generate income while the product’s in production. It also informs your visitors about the item’s pending availability. Remember that you will need to locate a trustworthy manufacturer that can deliver on quality, time and communication. Your reputation is dependent on your ability to deliver the goods within a reasonable time.
- VIP customers can get first access to limited-edition items. This allows your top customers to be the first to know about new products before they are released to the general public. This is a great way for customers to show loyalty to your brand and encourage them to sign up for your loyalty or email list. This allows you to promote your favorite products and helps you plan how many of each item you will order.
- Combining pre-orders and discounts or promotions. Combining pre-orders with price discounts and promotions can encourage buyers to act even if your product is not in stock. This works especially well when it is tied to an event or holiday. It can be communicated via your site, social media accounts and email campaigns.
- Test a new product. Before you commit your resources to a full product launch, test the viability of the product. To gauge interest and slowly roll out your products, you could launch a “coming shortly” landing page. In a sense, you can buy time to resolve any supply chain issues that are inherent in any new product release and/or to set realistic expectations with your customers before fully rolling out your product.
Here are some cautionary points
It is not recommended to offer pre-ordering if the availability date for an item is uncertain or unknown. An alternative to pre-orders is to allow shoppers to sign up to receive an email or text message alert when the item comes back in stock.
It is important that you clearly communicate all aspects of pre-orders to customers when you are implementing them on your website. You should notify existing customers about pre-orders and let them know the status of your products once they have been purchased. These are some important details that you should communicate with your customers:
- Shipping date estimates
- The next section will cover their payment options.
- Pre-order Terms and Conditions
- Customers can cancel their orders easily by following the Order Cancellation Policy.
How to choose the best eCommerce pre-order method
There are many payment options that you have when selling pre-orders through your website.
- Payment now: This payment method requires payment at time of purchase but shipping is delayed until the product becomes available. This pre-order is very popular because it allows store owners to make revenue before the item becomes available for shipping. If you have an online payment system, it’s easy to set this up. If you are selling internationally, it is important to verify that there are no payment red tapes. You might be prohibited from selling out-of-stock products in certain countries. In these cases, you will need to default to “pay later”.
- The customer agrees to pay the product at shipping. If the seller and buyer both wish to cancel an order, they can do so. However, you will need to account for any excess inventory in case there are many cancellations.
- Crowdfunding : This is a popular option for businesses that are creating new products and need capital to manufacture them. Customers will often agree to send you money even if the product isn’t guaranteed. In return, they may be eligible for equity, rewards, or the final product (if it’s ever built). This is not a standard approach for eCommerce businesses.
What is the process for pre-orders with Wix
Wix’s eCommerce platform has flexible features that allow you to mimic a pre-order campaign. These are the steps to follow within your Wix account:
- Edit an existing product page or create a new one.
- Optional: If you wish to offer special pricing for buyers who avail your pre-order offer, add a preorder discount.
- Set the inventory value to “In stock.”
- Your messaging should be focused on what your customers can expect. You could include shipping and delivery information in the “product info section.” You could also add a pre-order ribbon to your listing.
You should follow up on a preorder with a thank-you email. This will remind the recipient that it is a preorder purchase. To make your customers feel at ease, communicate as much information as you can and keep in touch with them regularly.